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how to tell your parents you're dropping out of university?

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46 views asked Mar 17, 2017 in Education and Reference by Gigapie

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Parents are a tough one. I struggled with them a bit when I was getting ready to drop out of college and I’ve known and helped others who have had far more challenges than I did.

You’re scared they’ll cut you off financially.

You’re scared they’ll stop talking to you.

You’re scared they won’t love you.

Most of all, you’re just scared of doing anything without their consent. You’ve been a child all your life and you’re still one mentally in many ways.

The good news is, dropping out of college and getting out into the real world will break this mindset fast. Give it 6 months and you’ll be an entirely different person.

So as a preface to this answer, I’ll just say: it sounds like you’re on the right path.

Now, to get started, here’s a shortened, slightly exaggerated chronology of how my conversations with my parents went down, starting first semester of my Freshman year and ending with me finally dropping out:

Fall Semester 2012:

Me: “Mom. Dad. I’m dropping out of college.”

Parents: “No you aren’t.”

Winter Semester 2013:

Me: “Mom. Dad. I’m dropping out of college.”

Parents: “No you aren’t.”

Fall Semester 2013:

Me: “Mom. Dad. I skipped my finals and am dropping out of college. I’m going to join a Latin speaking monastery instead.”

Parents: “No you aren’t.”

Winter Semester 2014:

Me: “Mom. Dad. I skipped my finals and I dropped out of the University of Michigan.”

Parents: “No you aren’t.”

Me: “They wouldn’t let me go back even if I wanted to… Checkmate.”

Parents: “…Congratulations. Go get a job.”

(I did go get a job. You can read about it here: How I Got My First Job After I Dropped Out of College)

Parents vs The Real World: Why Your Family Has So Much Trouble Letting You Drop Out of School and Why You Shouldn’t Always Listen to Them

I’ve come to realize over the last two years that parents tend to give some of the worst career and educational advice out there.

I don’t blame them necessarily.

They’re almost biologically hardwired to want you to pursue the safest paths possible in your life.

Despite the praise they might shower you with, they’d rather you be average like them than great because the path to average is well trodden and seems reasonably safe, while higher levels of success necessarily require a bit of risk and deviation from the standard trails.

While they might genuinely want to help you, their education and career advice tends to start with a rather selfish (in a bad way) underlying premise: their desire to see you safe and secure throughout your life.

They want to know that all the hard work they put in as parents wasn’t for nothing.

There are three problems with this though:

In order to satisfy their desire, you almost always have to compromise on what you really want to do in life. Nothing can justify this.
Your parents view of safety is usually wrong anyways.

How safe is it really to take $100,000 in debt and spend 4–8 years of your life sitting in a classroom with the hope that once you come out on the other side somebody will be hiring? How safe is it to spend some of the most energetic, creative years of your life creating nothing?

Think a degree guarantees you a path to success? It doesn’t, and the world is moving more and more towards rewarding those who hop off the educational conveyor belt and get a 4 year headstart one everyone else.
Their advice is the same advice other parents give. It will turn you into a commodity later on in life. You’ll graduate college with the same experience, the same views, the same goals, and the same skills (none) as everyone else. Think that makes you safe? Think again. The real world doesn’t reward conformity.
The uncommon conclusion to be reached from all of this? Your parents don’t always know what’s best for you.

Maybe it’s time to stop asking them for permission and just go out and do things on your own?

Besides, talk is cheap. Most people, no matter how much you try to convince them, are unlikely to jump up at the prospect of you throwing off almost 70 years (since the GI bill) of social indoctrination into the idea that everyone needs to go to college.

Believe me, I’ve lived it.

My parents, despite being dropouts themselves, were skeptical of it until they saw what I was doing with my life. Now they’re some of my biggest supporters. They share all my articles, tell everyone that college is a waste of time, and tell me how proud of me they are they I resisted their push to keep me in school.

The way you convince them that dropping out is what is best for you is by proving it to them in the real world.

Go become happier and more successful than you would be in school and your parents will come around, no matter how upset they are in the beginning.

They’ll learn to see that you made the right decision and frankly, they’ll respect you more because of it.
answered Mar 17, 2017 by Blunt
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I'm not doing so well in school. I'm halfway through my sophomore year and I just got an email from my university saying that I've been removed from a "degree status" which I'm not entirely sure what that means per se but it's due to my low GPA.
Even if it wasn't for my grades, I'm not sure I want to be in college. I'm not happy, I don't enjoy schooling, and it seems like every time I actually try in school I do about as well as when I don't try. As you can imagine, it's extremely demotivating.
Today, my mom told me to fill out my FAFSA for financial aid, then my dad proceeded to have a "conversation" with me about how I'm constantly fighting with him about financial aid, how I'm lazy and don't do anything, and that if he's miserable at work just so they can pay for my college.
I'm miserable. I'm not happy with my life and I feel like I'm going nowhere. Even with school, I don't feel like I'm doing anything. I don't even know what I want to do. So even if I miraculously tell my parents that I want to drop out, their inevitable followup question of, "What are you going to do instead?" I have no answer.
I don't know what I want out of life but I know it's not accrue debt while I figure it out. I have absolutely no clue how to tell my parents so that I don't get badgered for dropping out and/or being kicked out later anyways. They're not the easiest people to talk to.
answered Mar 17, 2017 by Amaretta
Your parents sound pretty unsupportive, so maybe you would feel a tiny bit better if you didnt have to deal with them everyday. How about applying for programs where you'll live elsewhere, like teaching english in asian countries or joining the peace corp? And try to get put on medical leave or something with your college.

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